I’m beginning this blog with a story about a very special little girl named Andie. Andie is a little girl curious about life as all nine year olds are. Andie is my granddaughter and this is about a life lesson that I was able to share with her on a recent visit in Wisconsin. It turned out to be one of the best experiences of my short four day visit. I believe that children are truly eager to learn what makes both them and us special and unique. There is nothing better than to recognize those teachable moments in life when we share our talents and the very things that make us who we are. I love searching for treasures. A treasure can be found in something that someone else has thrown away, something that I’ve found or shopping at a second hand store. Then I am able to give it a touch of paint or perhaps another completely different purpose.
We began the day in my 12 passenger van hunting for treasures in Wisconsin. It is always exciting when visiting another state to visit their thrift, junk and antique stores hunting for treasures. If we want our loved ones to see what makes us tick, it is important to spend time with them doing the things we love. The things that make our hearts happy and keep a smile on our face. Just maybe a seed will be planted as they get a glimpse of our joy, and the worth that we see in junk, and they will want it too! I always say “Do what you love.”
We started around 9 AM with a trip to the local Goodwill store. I explained to Andie that there are two important things to consider when you go into one of these stores: 1. How much space do you have? 2. How much money do you have to spend? We went into the store keeping our budget in mind as we looked over our newfound treasures from top to bottom carefully picking the ones that we were able to either re-purpose for our personal use as decor or that we could resell. I explained to her that we needed to think about our purchases and not just buy to spend money. I explained how I work very hard for money. Quickly our conversation landed on the Donna Summers song “She Works Hard For Her Money,” but, that’s another story!
After a few choruses our conversation changed from working hard for your money to easy money! I’m not quite sure how that happened, but it did. She recognized quickly that getting “birthday money” was “easy money” because she didn’t really have to do anything for it! Well, that’s kind of true I told her, but you did have to be born to receive it and someone had to work to make it to give it to you. You can’t believe the conversations children can have about money! We moved on to what we were going to make, create and maybe paint with our new treasures. That led to teaching her about what it costs to make old things beautiful again.
By now we are all seeing the joy of junking and the business of reselling. So many lessons in a day and an amazing connection between the two of us. I wanted her to learn that it is a blessing to create your own decor while making rooms special in your apartment or house. A home is a place of making memories and what better way to make them than to create your own personal space. Not everyone has a lot of extra money to buy the things they want but that does not mean that you have to do without. Does this look like the face of adventure?
As the day went on we continued treasure hunting and pretty much filled up the van leaving only a little space for a surprise or two! I told Andie to always leave room for the unexpected. By this time we were hungry and ready to head home. We arrived home and went right to making crafts and painting. We were trying to fill her bedroom with as much decor and memories that we could fit in during a short visit. Since I have a love for beach combing I have an endless seashell collection and I wanted to share that love with her. We sat, painted and reflected on her first day of junking. She asked many questions and laughed as we worked together. She even asked me about making money as a creative person. Andie took a break and walked into another room finding some change on the floor. She quickly said, “Now that is what we call ‘easy money!'” After some laughter her mother quickly said, “No, that is not ‘easy money,’ that is stealing because it’s not yours.” Yet another life lesson.
I wanted Andie to experience her own creativity even while painting seashells with her favorite colors and to experience how it made her feel. The fact that we did it together will be remembered long after our visit. You see, seashells are just a thing, a thing that God created. We made them our own and made memories in the process. We look at an object and it becomes a tool to spend time together. There are lessons in everything we do. It is up to us if we see them or share them with others.
The end of the evening came when her grandfather asked her if she wanted to go with him and the dogs for a walk before it was time to go to bed? Andie said, “yes” and another spontaneous moment was about to happen. They harnessed the dogs and headed out the door. It wasn’t 15 minutes until my phone rang. It was Andie wanting to Facetime with me so I answered the call and I could see a dumpster behind her. She was full of excitement because she found four stools that someone threw out in the trash. They were in perfect condition and she knew I could paint them and sell them. I jumped in the van with her mom and found her standing at the dumpster with great satisfaction! She helped load the chairs into my now very full van. You see, Andie was paying attention to her experiences that day and was able to apply what I taught her.
Now we are back home and the stools are in the garage waiting to be painted, sold and off to a good home. I let Andie know that she will receive a “finder’s fee” when I sell them and she will have her very first pay from dumpster diving. I cant wait to see how that makes her feel.
What a great trip that we had together, even though it was a short one. In closing let me remind you of something. When you are spending time with your family, be present, listen and love each other. Whether or not we live close geographically or not, the connections to each other when we are together are priceless. I know it sounds cliche but it truly is all that we have. Objects can be made beautiful but they don’t have a heart. The people close to us need us. They need us to pay attention and to teach them what God has freely taught us.